Oh Yes, We Made a Plan!
November 14th 2017. CAC Global Citizen and Harvard Alum Heather ‘Action’ Jackson blogs from Nagpur, India about our groundbreaking partnership with Slum Soccer.
I’ve been so lucky as a CAC Global Citizen in so many ways, including having the opportunity to work with longtime partner Slum Soccer here in Bokhara, Nagpur, India. As an outside observer, it struck me that the comfort, familiarity and understanding that CAC and SS have developed together over 8 years, as people and as organizations, created an environment of trust and openness that allowed for real progress to be made this week.
A common phrase you’ll hear whenever a decision needs to be made is “We make a plan.” This applies to almost any decision that I saw made this week incl: when to leave for Shakti Girls (Girl Power) practice; where to go for delicious Southern Indian dosa and tea; who is going to drive/be a passenger on which motorcycle (all of which read below empty on fuel) and of course which direction to take and grow an organization. Often the decision can take some time; that’s what happens when you have a lot of bright people with different ideas, and/or a lot of bikes and passengers to organize.
And many plans were made, executed and/or in progress. Highlights include:
Serious strides in professional and organizational development for Slum Soccer using CAC’s process consultancy framework. It’s not often easy to take the “right” next steps to grow and mature as an organization; the insight and knowledge CAC leaders provided this regard was invaluable and those next steps put into place.
Development by senior female staff of 3 brand new games for Slum Soccer’s female health & wellness initiative, focusing specifically on menstruation. It was amazing to see the girls open up, voice frustration with, and ask about the verity of, cultural traditions and listen to the SS senior staff support, educate and inform them. You know it’s working and trust exists when the day’s program is ended, and 15 girls are circled around still asking questions and getting answers.
42 games played with 35 coach/mentor participants, including those designed to address HIV, LGBT, Child Rights and ASK for Choice (Female Empowerment.) It’s truly rewarding to see those girls too shy at the beginning of the week to say anything or even look up from the ground, raising their arms up and shouting “I am strong” or “I have a voice” by the end of the week. Yes change can happen in 5 days.
An amazing street food tour (once we figured out who was actually on which bike) led by senior SS staff. That “We make a plan” took some time to make following an outing to the cinema featuring Thor, my first Hindi 3D movie, but was so worth it. Thank you Slum Soccer friends and family!
CAC in the Mountains of Rural Haiti
February 3, 2014. We had a great week working with Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs. First of all, Fond des Blancs is beautiful. It is surrounded by huge mountains, luscious green mango trees, blue skies and filled with smiling people. It was a very different experience to work with a first year program, but it was really fun to see them embrace and enjoy our games and messages.
The coaches, of course, started out with a few good laughs when we introduced Circle of Friends on the first day. As the day went on, the coaches started to become increasingly competitive with the games and involved in the discussions afterwards. Each day got better and by the end of the week, I could really see an improvement in the creativity in the way that they were solving the conflicts in the games we taught. They were great in the discussions on the difference between cheating and making a mistake, the importance of being healthy, and ways to make safer sexual decisions. One thing that all the Fond des Blancs coaches really enjoyed was just playing a game of soccer. We ended the week playing a big 11 vs. 11 game with rocks as goal posts and no true out-of-bounds lines. It was amazing to me that when someone did a handball or committed a foul there would be no discussion or conflict, even though throughout the week our games definitely caused some arguments. In the soccer game, the team that committed the fault would just give the other team the ball and the game would continue.
Sophie and I had a great time coaching, but Ricardo, our Community Impact Coach (CIC) from GOALS Haiti the week prior, was a super star. He was great at translating, teaching the games, and leading the discussions after the games. He was incredible at using self-directed learning as a coaching tool to make the new coaches think about solutions without giving them an answer. He was a great help throughout the week.
Outside of the training sessions, we had fun exploring Fond des Blancs. Sophie, Ricardo, and I were staying in a beautiful house with our host Molly, the general manager of Haiti Projects who is currently working with the Fond des Blancs girl’s soccer team. She was awesome. She always made sure we had enough food and water, and even gave us a tour of the Haiti Projects, which is an organization that employs women in order to make them self-sufficient and have easier access to health care, jobs, and education. All of their employees send their children to school, when previously only about 17% could afford to do so. Women also are reporting an average income increase of over 250% and earn on average 262% more than the national minimum wage. Clearly, it is an incredible organization that deserves a lot of credit for the impact they are making. It is always great to see organizations that have similar goals to Coaches Across Continents be so successful. Overall, it was a great week. Sophie, Ricardo and I had an awesome time coaching, sight-seeing, and learning with the exciting people of Fond Des Blancs!
January 30, 2014. The first thing I realized when I landed in Haiti was that for some reason Haitian kids always wanted to fight me. At first I thought a Japanese man like me was probably not welcome in Haiti, but then soon I realized that they thought I was Jackie Chan and always thus expected a display of martial arts skill. For that reason, I was kind of popular in Haiti and it was easy to be friendly with Haitian people.
And like that, my life in Haiti started. After the amazing first week we had with GOALS Haiti in Léogâne, we moved to Port-au-Prince, where we worked with Tony Sanneh of The Sanneh Foundation and their Haitian Initiative for a full week. Tony is a former professional soccer player who played for the US in the 2002 World Cup and had an assist against Portugal. He founded The Sanneh Foundation when he was still playing as a pro in order to help the urban kids learn life skills through playing soccer, and decided to extend the program to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.
The week with the Haitian Initiative was very overwhelming but also fun. In the mornings from 9:00 to 12:00, we taught our drills to about sixty of the local coaches, and in the afternoon from 2:00 to 5:30 we observed the coaches using our drills to train the kids. The sessions were really long and because I was under the sun for a long time every day, I got the coolest T-shirt tan lines ever, which people actually have been telling me are the worst. However, it was totally worth working with the local coaches for that long period of time because I was able to learn three big lessons about life.
One lesson is the importance of conflict resolution. From the first day of the week, we let them play games that were designed to simulate conflict. At first, I always wanted to get in the middle of the argument and re-explain the rules and offer a solution. However, Nora always pulled me aside and told me “let them solve their own problems” and just yelled out, “rezoud konfli!” which means to solve conflicts in Créole. By the end of the week I started to observe more leadership within the group and efforts to solve problems independently. It was a huge step forward for them, especially because the ability to think critically and solve problems is crucial for developing countries like Haiti, and until that point I never knew there was such an educating method as stepping back and observing without interfering, which had a pretty impressive effect.
The second lesson I learned was that, yes, soccer is a language of the world and you can easily make tons of friends by just playing soccer, but knowing some of their language and culture gets you much closer to them. For example, I literally knew only four sentences in Créole, which were “bon travay” (good job), “san balon” (without the ball), “bay non” (give me your name) and “ou pare? on ale” (you ready? Let’s go). However, with only these four sentences, I was able to make them laugh, smile, and happy. In addition, we learned one of the Haitian traditional dance moves in the first week, and we showed it to the coaches in Port-au-Prince, and they absolutely loved that we did it. Looking back at my own life, I was always happy when random people talked to me saying “konnichiwa,” or even when they were big fans of Pokémon. I thought that when I got a chance to go abroad next, I should learn some fun sentences and dances from the country before visiting, and now I know that will definitely help me make friends.
Finally, working with the Haitian Initiative made me realize that I could influence so many other lives. After working with the coaches for a week, it was obvious to my eyes that they not only had become better coaches, but also had become better educators. In the afternoon sessions where we got to observe the coaches training the kids, I could tell the way they interacted with the kids had started to change. They were encouraging kids to be more vocal, have respect for others, treat everyone equally regardless of gender, and have more fun. The funny thing is when they would shout out “rezoud konfli!” to kids when they were arguing. It was amazing to see that what we teach is directly reflected in what they teach. Because each coach had about twenty kids, that’s more than a thousand kids we had impacted. To think that we had influenced more than a thousand kids in just a week, and that we had potentially helped create a positive outlet for Haiti’s next generation of leaders is simply mind-blowing.
Going to Haiti and working with CAC and Haitian Initiative has definitely become a life changing experience to me. This trip gave me a chance to reassess my values in life along with my future goals. These past two weeks I was always asking myself questions, but did not know answers to most of them. This trip made me really want to go back to school, and study to become a better critical thinker so that I can be better at rezoud konfli. So now I am happy that I am back at Harvard to start a new semester, but man, it is freaking cold here. I already miss Haiti and mangos.
Slum Soccer–International Women’s Day Celebration 2013
March 5th, 2013. Our great partner at Slum Soccer, India prepare for International Women’s Day 2013.
Venue:- Slum Soccer Academy Bokhara Nagpur
Date:- 7 to 9th March 2013
Slum Soccer will be celebrating International Women’s day with a unique mix of on field and off field activities. In slums girls are not encouraged to play sports, we explain them why soccer is important to their life with female empowerment games. Firstly by encouraging them to participate in games and then once they become comfortable with us then we can approach other important topics like HIV, Health and Nutrition. Among our participants we have seen that as result of participation they have become more confident in their personal lives, they feel safe when to come to our session and talk freely. They have improved their problem solving skill as well as they have learned to respect each other and the coaches
In the first two days session we will have games on womens empowerment and gender equality, this will be followed by an all womens tournament.
In the second phase of the celebration we will be conducting interactive sessions where the participants will get a chance to interact with a lawyer and a health worker who will be talking with them on basic human rights issue and general health.
Coaches Across Continents partners in more than 9 countries will be using Soccer for Social Impact to support International Women’s Day 2013.
Coaches Across Continents Releases New Video
February 27, 2013. Coaches Across Continents is happy to release our latest video, our 2013 Social Impact Documentary.
Filmed in Marsabit, Kenya with our partner group Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI), this community is showing how sport can change a community that faces female genital mutilation, girls being sold into marriage, and gun violence.
It’s fascinating to see the impact of the Coaches Across Continents work from the voices of the local coaches, teachers, and young people. We get a chance to see first-hand the impact that sport is having on programs like HODI all over the world.
Nick Gates, Founder, Coaches Across Continents
Meet the Coaches heading to Kenya and Zimbabwe
Meet Micaela Harms
Favorite soccer team: FC Barcelona
Favorite player: Messi
Favorite movie: The Bourne Trilogy
Favorite food: Chipotle burrito or salmon
Who will win Euro 2012? Spain
Funniest moment on the soccer field: Probably when I accidentally scored a goal off my face this past season.
What you are most looking forward to with your volunteering? Seeing firsthand the positive changes that I have made in people’s lives.
Interesting fact(s) about you: I love to sail!
Micaela will be traveling to work with several partner programs in Kenya.
Favorite player: Beckenbauer
Favorite movie: its a wonderful life
Favorite food: peach pie
Who will win Euro 2012? Spain
Funniest moment on the soccer field: going to help am injured player off of the field, bending to help her up and splitting my pants open. Had to walk helping her across the field. I Kind off turned sideways and used her to cover my butt
Tim will be working with partner programs in Zimbabwe.